IT2LVS-One country, many languages. Linguistic variety and society in contemporary Italy

Module Provider: Modern Languages
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2022/3

Module Convenor: Dr Chiara Ciarlo

Type of module:

Summary module description:

One nation = one language. This equation emerged with the geo-political unification of many European countries across the 19th century. However, far from representing the reality, the equation has proved to be oversimplifying, and barely applicable to countries like Italy where linguistic diversity and multilingualism had been experienced by speakers’ communities for centuries.

To prepare students for their year abroad in Italy, and to provide them with an updated overview of the linguistic landscape of the Peninsula, the module presents a wide range of topics (monolingualism vs multilingualism, standard vs minority language, language contact, sociolinguistic landscaping in urban settings, the use of dialects and regional varieties in nowadays Italy, literary and music production in non-standard variety, the language of young people and its artistic and cultural aspects, the language of the media, the new ethno-linguistic minorities, etc.) which will enable learners to better understand the linguistic and cultural complexity of the country, and to have an insight into concepts like monolingualism and multilingualism, standard and non-standard varieties, sociolinguist approaches to the study of language.

To better engage with these topics, students are offered to opportunity to try several forms of creative assessment, which include videoblogs, podcasts, academic posters, reports based on interviews and questionnaires, exhibitions and mini-placements.


The module aims to explore the Italian language and its varieties from a sociolinguistic perspective. Emphasis will be given to topics like monolingualism vs multilingualism, standard vs minority language, sociolinguistic landscaping, the use of dialects and regional varieties, literary and music production in non-standard varieties, the language of young people, the language of the media, varieties for professional purposes, language contacts, and the new ethno-linguistic minorities.

Assessable learning outcomes:

The encourages students:

  • to be aware of the socio-cultural context in which languages are spoken and used by speakers;

  • to become familiar with a new theoretical framework (sociolinguistics) and some key concepts such as monolingualism/bilingualism, variety and register, language competence, language contact, minority language, etc.;

  • to become more familiar with the different varieties of Italian and Italian dialects;

  • to better understand the linguistic complexity of countries with multilingual communities.

By the end of the term, it is expected that students will be able to approach the Italian language and its varieties from a sociolinguistic viewpoint and design an original research about one or more aspects concerning the Italian language today, in order to become aware of the use of the language in real social contexts.

Additional outcomes:

The module also aims to encourage students:

  • to develop research and writing skills;

  • to acquire new methodological skills, which enable them to prepare sociolinguistic interviews, questionnaires, surveys;

  • to develop their oral presentation and discussion skills and their effectiveness in group situations;

  • to improve their grasp of the Italian language and its historical development;

  • to develop their problem-solving abilities;

  • to make good use of appropriate reference materials.

Outline content:

Lessons will explore some key concepts in sociolinguistics in relation to the Italian used today. Students will both focus on regional identities and cultural productions and on current issues at national level, such as professional varieties and the Italian of the media. Representative texts, music, artworks in the original languages (Italian varieties, dialects of Italy) will be analysed with reference to the above-mentioned aspects. In addition to written sources, a wide range of audio-visual materials will be employed.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module will be taught through a combination of  lectures and seminars, for which students will carry out preparatory reading. 

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10 10
Seminars 5 5
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 50 50
    Wider reading (directed) 20 20
    Group study tasks 5 5
    Carry-out research project 10 10
Total hours by term 100 100 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 40
Project output other than dissertation 40
Practical skills assessment 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

By the end of the Autumn term, students will be asked to write an essay (worth 40% of the final mark) on a given topic. By week 6 of the Spring term, students will be asked to design a research tool (questionnaire, survey, interview, etc.), worth 20% of the final mark, in preparation for their research project, due by week 1 of the Summer Term (worth 40% of the final mark).

One piece of assessment worth no more than 50% of the module mark can be replaced by a report produced after an academic placement. The placement must be agreed in advance by the module convenor; the length of the report is to be equivalent to standard departmental practice for coursework.

Formative assessment methods:

By week 7 of the Autumn Term, students will be required to submit a critical evaluation of an academic article on a topic studied during the term. By week 6 of the Spring Term, students will be also required to contribute to the class blog to discuss methodological issues in preparation for their research projects.

Penalties for late submission:

The Support Centres will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:


Reassessment arrangements:

Reassessment in August, in the event of failure in this module and of failure in Part 2 as a whole. Coursework for reassessment must be resubmitted by 12 NOON on the third Friday of August or, if the University is closed on the third Friday of August, by 12 NOON on the first working day thereafter.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

1) Required text books: 

2) Specialist equipment or materials: 

3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: 

4) Printing and binding:  £20 - only in case students choose to produce an academic poster as part of their final research project.

5) Computers and devices with a particular specification: 

6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence: 

Last updated: 22 September 2022


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